Laughter therapy is a type of therapy that uses humor to help relieve pain and stress and improve a person's sense of well-being. It may be used to help people cope with a serious disease, such as cancer. Many hospitals use laughter therapy to help patients cope with a variety of painful medical conditions. Laughter therapy may include laughter exercises, clowns, and comedy movies, books, games, and puzzles.
Dr. Katherine Puckett, National Director of Mind-Body Medicine at the Cancer Treatment Center of American Hospital outside of Chicago says cancer patients find that laughing, particularly in a group setting, can help them through their cancer journey.
Often times during cancer treatment, patients feel tense and apprehensive, which can lower the immune system’s ability to defend itself. This can prolong treatment or even reduce its effect. Dr. Puckett, Certified Laughter Leader, facilities laughter group sessions to help patients reduce those side effects and improve their overall quality of life.
At the Laughter Club group sessions, the leader takes patients through various laugh-related exercises, including fake laughter and laughter greetings. Laughter is treated as a purposeful, physical exercise. One exercise has patients stand in a circle, with the leader in the middle. Patients put their fingertips on their cheekbones, chest or lower abdomen and make “ha-ha” or “hee-hee” sounds until they feel vibrations throughout their bodies.
Patients and caregivers are invited to laugh; it is not forced. “You do not have to be funny. You can see funny,” says Dr. Puckett. By seeing can lead to a new perspective, allowing patients to notice humor in situations they never found funny before. "Maybe your wig blew off in the wind,” says Dr. Puckett.
“Laughter therapy can give us permission to take what could be a humiliating experience and turn it into something funny.”
Laughter therapy discovered into the mind-body program over 10 years when a patient was receiving treatment. The patient received about 15 minutes of treatment a day for eight weeks leaving a good portion of the day opened. She felt the facility could use some fun so she decided to spend time researching information on laughter therapy. She copied quite a few pages from the Internet and brought them to Dr. Puckett. At first Dr. Puckett was a bit hesitant but the mind-body program and hospital strives to honor patient’s requests when possible. Dr. Puckett not only researched Laughter Therapy, she became a Certified Laughter Leader and incorporated into her program.
For cancer patients, laughter therapy can be an significant tool in the journey back to normalcy. A cancer diagnosis can be especially disheartening. When we find ways to lighten up and have fun, it can be contagious. Just the act of laughing on purpose, even if nothing is particularly funny, can lead to genuine laughter. “Patients are fearful, weary and end up thinking they can no longer enjoy life,” says Dr. Puckett. “We encourage people to find ways they can still appreciate life. Laughter is one of them.”
If you are interested in becoming involved with a formal Laughter Therapy program, for yourself or your loved one, contact local hospitals or Google "Laughter Therapy in my local area".
In 1995 Madan Kataria, M.D. started a ‘Laughter Club’ in New Delhi after researching the benefits of a 'good giggle'. He combines yoga stretches and encourages people to laugh for ‘No reason at all.’ He has Laughter Clubs all over the world along with his Facebook Page – ‘Laughter Club’.
Madan Kataria, M.D. concept is based on the concept that voluntary laughter can provide the same health benefits as spontaneous laughter. Practitioners simply need to laugh – mastering yoga positions is not essentials.
Sebastien Gendry, CEO of the American School of Laughter, takes a different approach to laughter as good medicine. He puts it in the context of laughter wellness. “Laughter is the tool. Yoga is the end.” He adds, “It’s not about happiness but finding meaning through practice and understanding. How we feel is a choice.”
Laughing for a sustained period of time is key to reaping the health benefits of laughter yoga. Classes routinely help students laugh steadily for 15 to 20 minutes.
The overall results: Increased oxygen intake and blood flow, improved blood vessel function, and lower blood pressure. This helps protect your heart, boosts energy, dissolves stress and allows you to gain focus.
Throughout his years with the laughter yoga movement, Gendry discovered participants primarily prefer the following about laughter yog
* Body: It makes you feel relaxed and energized; stress and pain melt away.
* Mind: Your mind becomes sharper and clearer.
* Emotions: You feel more grounded
* Social: You feel more connected to the people around you.
* Spiritual: It boosts self-esteem, making you feel more at peace
If you think a Laughter Club maybe beneficial, check the Internet: Laughter Club Meet up Groups, Laughter Clubs Online, Laughter Yoga USA Online, Laughter Yoga Facebook.
Laughter Therapy or Laughter Clubs can be a wonderful compliment, however; they are not a substitute for medical care or mental health counseling.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
A Closer Look At Laughter Therapy
Senior Blog – A Place For Mom
The Serious Benefits of Laughter Yoga
January 23, 2014
Cecelia Salamone is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years in the field of counseling and rehabilitation. She enjoys attending workshops, seminars and conferences to help enhance her life, keeps her up-to-date on information, and offers the opportunity to network with others in this field. Cecelia was a caregiver for her parents and in-laws and involved in a support group.
To make the road easier for herself and other caregivers, Cecelia wrote Designated Caregiver - Resource Manual for the Caregiver "On Call 24/7", a hands-on, informative guidebook. The book covers topics relevant to high level care for our loved ones.
"Caregiver Inspirations"is dedicated to empower and educate caregivers with information, resources and support. Plus - resource caregiver manual, Life Coaching for Caregivers.
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Cecelia Salamone is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years in the field of counseling and rehabilitation. She enjoys attending workshops, seminars and conferences. Cecelia finds they enhance her life, keeps her up-to-date on information, and offers the opportunity to exchange ideas with others active in this field. Over the past twelve years, she has been a member of the Metro Detroit Creative Writers group (MDCW). Cecelia was a caregiver for her parents and in-laws from 1994-2014 and was involved in a support group.